Jenny Magnus

Dimwit mandatory observations of an orchestrated catastrophe...

On the theme of Attention:

"...It made me feel a little scared to think that maybe there’s a whole class of things that I'm unaware of. That I am un-self-conscious of. And that I'm going to be forced to pay attention to. I can't quite see how I'm going to stay in the present if there are all of these things I have to pay attention to.  It all goes by so fast, it’s confusing, and I feel like I'm not really in control of it. Like it’s sweeping me along and I only have time to pick up on a few things..." Cruise Control, The Willies, 1993

57 Rejections is a new project attempting to re-frame my dismal application record of the last 15 years.  I am intending to collect one rejection for every year of my life, and in the process, perhaps learn better how to apply for things, and what is desirable to institutions and arts organizations.  Something is wrong: I have a 0% success rate in grants, residencies, publishing, or any other external affirmation of my work.  Everything I have received in the last 15 years has been through personal connection.  Before that, I had a 100% success rate for over 15 years.  I got everything I applied for.  So this insane swing, so dismaying and defeating, has forced me to confront what is happening to me as a mid-career artist.  I know there are streaks and dry spells, that is to be expected.  But my perception of a wall I have bashed into repeatedly begins to feel like it's made of something other than my own inadequacies.  As I have gotten older, I have felt more and more invisible.  My concerns, the material I root around in to make stuff out of,  seems out of step with current trends.  I have spent much energy trying to self-critique, to question what I am making, because if it isn't wanted, then surely there must be something wrong with it, it must fall short of some sort of standard?  And that may be objectively true.  But being an artist over one's whole life means that one has to keep pushing and trying to grow.  I am not going down without a fight.  This year, I am digging deep, swimming faster than the stream, and as a middle aged, mid career woman artist, speaking out and saying, I will not be defeated.  I will frame my dismay.  ONWARD!